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US Rail Strike to Start Friday, Unless Miracle Occurs
Sigh. Time to stock up on more toilet paper.
American rail workers will strike this Friday night at 12:01 a.m. if unions can’t come to an agreement with American freight railroad companies.
More than 80,000 workers may walk off the job if an agreement fails to pass.
Except, these negotiations have been going on since January 2020. And this deadline of Friday is after an extended “cooling off period.”
On the more hopeful side, only 2 unions out of 12, the Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD), are withholding approval of the agreement.
While these negotiations have been going on, what’s our government done? Published a long-ass document:
A Presidential Emergency Board — created by President Joe Biden through executive order in July — published a 119-page document in August that reviewed the arguments put forward by the railroad carriers and rail labor unions before issuing a variety of contract policy recommendations.
Meanwhile, two U.S. lawmakers (Roger Wicker, R.-Miss. and Richard Burr, R-N.C.) are trying to pass a “cramdown” bill to force a resolution. From FreightWaves (emphasis mine):
But getting a divided Congress to quickly pass such settlement legislation offers little chance of resolving the dispute, according to John Brennan III, a former senior counsel for the Union Pacific Railroad.
“Congress is in the unfortunate position of resolving a potential strike on very difficult terms, and what Wicker and Burr are proposing is a cramdown,” Brennan told FreightWaves.
Brennan pointed out that when the last rail strikes occurred in the early 1990s, Congress passed settlement resolutions within 24 hours. But the partisan divide in Congress today, along with the upcoming midterm elections, could make it difficult to pass settlement legislation before midnight on Thursday when a work stoppage would be permitted under the law.
“Expedited passage of this legislation requires unanimous consent, and one senator or congressman on either side of the aisle looking to gain political points will be able to hold this up — the possibility for theatrics is endless,” Brennan said.
Well, given our feckless national leadership, don’t expect this to be resolved well if the rail companies and unions can’t solve it themselves.
It’s possible someone in Congress will patch together something at the last minute, or Biden will just go full-blown dictator to keep the trains running…
But, in the meantime, don’t leave any important purchases to the last minute.
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